18 January 2005

FAO to Hold Special Conference on Small Island Developing States

Meeting to Follow up on Mauritius Recommendations

(Reissued as received.)

ROME, 17 January (FAO) -- As a follow-up to the international meeting on small island developing States (SIDS) that ended in Mauritius last Friday, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today that it will convene a special conference in Rome during its Governing Conference 19-26 November 2005 to review the Mauritius Strategy to Further Implement the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS.

The FAO small islands conference will tackle a number of urgent issues highlighted in the strategic document agreed at last week's international meeting in Mauritius, which urged "the 2005 FAO Conference of SIDS ministers of agriculture to consider endorsing priority actions for an enhanced contribution of agriculture, forestry and fisheries to SIDS sustainable development policies, in light of the importance of nutrition and food security needs of SIDS".

The Mauritius Strategy document recommends management that addresses the impact of climate change on food production and the implementation of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the FAO High Seas Fishing Compliance Agreement.

It also says that sustainable management of ocean resources should promote "mapping of their exclusive economic zones, monitoring and surveillance of fishing efforts, including appropriate enforcement measures to minimize illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and over-harvesting".

The Strategy further calls for the creation of "synergistic linkages between tourism and the agricultural sector by promoting island foods and beverage supply chains, rural hospitality and agro-tourism".

Additionally, the Strategy document called on the international community to address issues of special concern to SIDS countries such as trade and food security and improving sanitary and phytosanitary infrastructure in these countries.

Small islands, with the support of the international community, are called on to "promote agricultural competitiveness through long-term development of efficient agricultural systems, diversification and value-added activities; and to ensure food security". Human and institutional capacity should be developed on "trade facilitation and niche marketing, agriculture, forestry and fisheries and natural resources product development".

Increased Efficiency and Diversification

Nadia Scialabba, FAO’s senior officer and focal point for SIDS, said that "the November SIDS meeting will revolve around increasing the efficiency and the diversification of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, with a particular focus on impacts related to trade and national food security; nutrition and household food security; and environmental resilience".

During the Mauritius conference, FAO highlighted specific SIDS needs within the global trading environment, particularly the serious trade threats to their major agricultural commodities, sugar and bananas.

FAO's Deep Ford, senior economist, Commodities and Trade Division, said: "There are two major issues currently facing SIDS countries. A reform proposal that could reduce the sugar price to African, Caribbean and Pacific exporting countries by as much as 37 per cent and the move to a tariff only regime for bananas, which could potentially erode the market for Caribbean banana producers."

In this context, he indicated that FAO has increased its efforts to help small island countries build up their trade negotiation capacities.

The FAO delegation to the SIDS international conference in Mauritius was headed by its Director-General, Dr. Jacques Diouf.

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